CrossroadsI saw my rheumatologist yesterday. His first question was, “Are you still breastfeeding?”

Are we? Sort of.

Gibson will only sit still and latch on long enough to actually nurse at night when he’s sleepy. Otherwise, he will only accept sustenance from a bottle or by spoon. Which is, you know, heartbreaking. And it makes me treasure those three or four minutes he’ll nurse at night.

Thanks to the reduced nursing sessions and my reaction to the pump, my supply is almost nothing. I pumped three times yesterday and didn’t even manage an ounce of milk.

When do I throw in the towel?

The doctor wants me to go back on Enbrel to treat my RA. But that’s no good for breastfed babies. So if I choose to go back on the drugs, I have to stop breastfeeding. With how little milk I’m able to pump and Gibson lack of interest…it’s tempting.

Plus, I’ve been on steroids and high doses of NSAIDs just to get through my days. Kneeling down to give Gibs a bath would be torture if I weren’t on these meds to keep my inflammation at bay. Feeling strong enough to carry his car seat or pick him up would be impossible if my wrists were aching the way they do without the meds. But ultimately, this is no way to live.

I’ve gained a lot of weight thanks to the steroids. Maybe other people have different side effects, but eight months on 20 mg of prednisone a day has helped me maintain my pregnancy figure. Honestly, I don’t care about the weight. I told myself that no matter what, I’d breastfeed to one year, and I don’t care if I gain 100 pounds thanks to the measures I have to take to get there.

But there is that high blood pressure to consider too. And my doctor didn’t like the looks of me one bit. He supports me if I choose to continue to breastfeed, but my resolve is wearing thin. All this time I’ve been telling myself that even a few drops of breast milk a day is better than none. But now… now I have to weigh the costs to my health.

Dammit, body. You couldn’t get pregnant without assistance. Now you can’t nurse your baby to the target goal of one year? What happened to me (or that I did to myself) that turned my body into this semi-functional pile of mush? If the perpetuation of the species depended on me, the human race would die out. And it’s not fair.

So I had myself a little pity party last night. But now it’s a new day. And I have to make some decisions. Nothing is cut and dry, black and white. All of the choices have pros and cons. Why do all parenting decisions have to feel so damn weighty?

Gibson gets his flu shot next week. I’ll talk to his pediatrician about this during the appointment. I feel sure he’s just going to tell me that it’s fine either way. And as The Man keeps reminding me, Gibs is strong and growing. He won’t starve without my milk. And soon he won’t even need formula either.

Three months of exclusive breastfeeding. Five months of supplementing. Is it all over? I don’t know.

8 thoughts on “Crossroads

  1. What is the reason you feel so much pressure to “make it to one year”? I don’t think your body is a pile of mush. I think it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing. Gibson is good! He’s more than good-he’s ADVANCED. And your body has other needs that can be taken care of when you stop breast feeding. Sounds serendipitous to me. I’m hearing that it may hurt your feelings a bit or disappoint you but isn’t your health more important at this point? You did a great job taking care of the Gibbons! Take care of Mama now. 🙂

    • I don’t know. I guess it’s the WHO recommendation of one year. And just me putting pressure on myself to do it. I’m one of those people who never finishes video games because I hate that I can’t get it right the first time. And you know, I read all the mommy blogs and some folks are militant about breastfeeding there. And I just want to do right by Gibs. But everyone I talk to says the same things. Gibs is fine.

  2. Were you one who was very set on having a natural (non epidural) birth? I can’t remember. But, I think it’s sort of like that. You go in with a mindset of a goal of what you’d like to accomplish and you certainly have your reasons for it, but sometimes you have to readjust your plans for very valid reasons. And after the fact, you’re like, hey, that was the right decision and I feel pretty darn good about it. The agony comes when you’re in the process of making the decision. When I was about to quit breastfeeding, I cried. I felt guilty. I felt all these extreme emotions about it. However, after the decision was made and we stopped, I never regretted it for a second. It was like shackles being removed from my wrists. My daughter, much like your son, didn’t have any patience for breastfeeding. I did have to resort to just before bed, side lying, in the dark… because otherwise she had no interest. I was pumping next to nothing and breaking my back over it. But, once I was free from it omg I was FREE!!! And we were all happier. The guilt you feel is part because you are an awesome mom and part because of the militant breastfeeders and stupid things people say to you about it. I felt like I needed a lot of people on the other side to support my decision of stopping, and it definitely helped. The benefits of a few ounces of a day of breastmilk vs benefits of having a healthy happy mom…. how does the scale tip for you?

  3. Such a hard decision. I felt a lot of guilt over starting solids at 4.5 months before the “recommended” age and again that I ran out of frozen breast milk at 11 months after weaning at 10 months (because I wasn’t making milk/Tru didn’t want to nurse). It’s so hard when you have a specific goal in mind that you can’t meet. Just try not to be hard on yourself about it because you have really done GREAT getting as far as you have! Especially considering that you have been pumping all this time! I didn’t pump that long and I can honestly say that the idea of it is very unappealing to me! But getting breast milk in my baby was appealing! Still though, you have to think of what is best for you because whatever is best for you is also going to be best for Gibson. I know he will be healthy and fine with or without breast milk at this point but will you be ok without the meds?

  4. Honestly, I think you have to just do what’s best for you! Giving it up early doesn’t make you a bad Mum, Kristin. You’ve made it this far and Gibson is obviously very happy and healthy the way things are already 🙂 You’re already an awesome Mum, but imagine how much easier it will be to be even more awesome when you’re in tip top condition too! And as for the WHO, yes they have good information, but they don’t know everything and they are just guidelines. Just do what’s right for you!

  5. Pingback: Letters to Gibson: Eight Months | Hungry For Motherhood

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